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Len Lieberman's article on Intelligent Design

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  • Lloyd Miller
    I ve pasted below Len Lieberman s article on Intelligent Design from Teaching Anthropology: SACC Notes, Vol. 11, No. 2, spring 2005. Lloyd DESIGN:
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 12, 2007
      I've pasted below Len Lieberman's article on Intelligent Design from
      Teaching Anthropology: SACC Notes, Vol. 11, No. 2, spring 2005.


      Leonard Lieberman, Professor Emeritus

      Central Michigan University

      Intelligent design does not provide an intelligent
      explanation of the origins of patterns in nature or of changes over
      time. Patterning in nature is best explained by mutations and
      natural selection under the complex and often varying conditions of
      life, as Darwin stated. When these conditions change a natural
      pattern may become extinct or undergo further evolution.

      Unfortunately, the simplistic sophistry of intelligent design (ID) is
      likely to appeal to the 55 percent of Americans polled, who believe
      that human beings were created by God, and it will also appeal to the
      27 percent who support evolution from lesser forms of life with God
      guiding the process, but it is not likely to win support from the 13
      percent who support evolution in which God did not directly guide the
      process (CBS News/New York Times poll, Nov. 18-21, 2004). Creators
      of the ID scenario include William Dembski, Michael Behe, and Phillip
      Johnson. Their ideas are thoroughly and critically examined by Mark
      Perakh in Unintelligent Design (Prometheus, 2004). A more direct
      approach is provided by questioning the tunnel vision of these
      intelligent designers. If design is so intelligent, then why did the
      Irish �elk� (a deer) have antlers spanning up to 12 feet, and why
      were they shed each year, and why did these deer become extinct
      11,000 years ago? Why the extravagant tail of the peacock? Why each
      year are there new disease vectors for influenza? Why have 99
      percent of the species that once existed now become extinct? Where
      have all the dinosaurs gone? Why are there no surviving
      Australopithecines? Why do we humans live so long that we
      increasingly die of cancer or heart failure? In the New York Times
      Magazine (2005: 5-16), Jim Holt asks some of these questions, and
      others. Such as why do less than one-third of human fertilizations
      culminate in live births? And if, as some Christians argue, life
      begins at conception, why are there so many un-baptized lives in
      �limbo for all eternity,� or has a special heavenly habitat been
      designed for them? For those who want a more detailed biological
      question, Holt asks why the laryngeal nerve does not traverse
      directly from the cranium to the larynx, but in fact travels down to
      the chest, loops around a ligament of the lung and then back up the
      neck to the larynx? In a giraffe that nerve is 20 feet long, but
      could have been designed for a one-foot connection.

      The designers of ID do not stress that since there is
      intelligent design there must be a designer, a supreme being, a God.
      If that religious belief were made explicit, then there could be
      rejection by the judiciary and little chance of including ID in
      public school curricula.

      One of the older arguments for including religion in the
      science classroom is the fairness factor which asserts that both
      Darwin and creationism should be presented because it is only fair to
      present both sides. Fairness to both sides assumes that there are
      only two sides. But in a multicultural, pluralistic world there are
      many religious approaches to creation. Christian denominations have
      several different approaches. Which of these should be presented?
      If, as fairness would dictate, several are presented from
      Christianity, and also from Judaism, Mohammadism, Buddhism,
      Shintoism, Animism, then the time for science would be very limited.
      Is that fair to students in a science based course in the context of
      a scientific-technology driven society?

      An example of the diversity of approaches to evolution
      within Christianity and Judaism is provided in Strategies in Teaching
      Anthropology (Patricia C. Rice and David W. MacCurdy, Eds., 3rd
      edition, 2004, see �Does �Fairness� Require Teaching Scientific
      Creationism?�, Leonard Lieberman and Rodney C. Kirk, pp. 60-66). It
      is useful to present these views and ask students who said them as
      multiple-choice questions.

      1. �Man learns from two books:
      the universe for the human study of things created by God, and the
      Bible, for the study of God�s superior will and truth. One belongs
      to reason, and the other to faith. Between them there is no
      clash� (Pope Pius XII, Address to Pontifical Academy of Science, 1939).

      2. �The
      Encyclopedia. . .cites. . .theologian George Forell�s interpretation
      of �the doctrine of creation as expressing a theory not about the
      origin of the world� but

      as describing man�s situation in the world.� (The Lutheran Church,

      3. The following organization
      urges its constituent units �to join with others to have creation-
      science legislation declared unconstitutional when it is in violation
      of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S.
      Constitution� (United Presbyterian Church).

      4. The following philosophical/
      religious unit affirmed �the glorious ability of God to create in any
      manner, whether men understand it or not, and in this affirmation
      reject the limited insight and rigid dogmatism of the �creationist
      movement. . .�� (Episcopal).

      5. �We testify to our belief that
      the historic Christian doctrine of the Creator God does not depend on
      any particular account of the origins of life for its truth and
      validity. . . .The assumption that the Bible contains scientific data
      about origins, misreads a literature which emerged in pre-scientific
      age� (United Church Board of Homeland Ministries).

      6. Resolved to �uphold religious
      neutrality in public education. . .and oppose efforts to compromise
      the integrity of public school teaching by the introduction of
      sectarian religious doctrines such as �scientific
      creationism�. . .� (Unitarian-Universalist).

      7. �Whereas, �scientific�
      creationism seeks covertly to promote a particular religious
      dogma,. . .be it resolved that the. . .Conference opposes efforts to

      �Scientific� creationism into the science curriculum of the public
      schools� (United Methodist Church).

      8. �[T]he principles and concepts
      of biological evolution are basic to understanding
      science. . .students who are not taught these principles or who hear
      �creationism� presented as a scientific alternative, will not be
      receiving an education based on modern scientific
      knowledge. . .ignorance about evolution will seriously undermine
      their understanding of the world and the natural laws governing it,
      and their introduction to other explanations described as
      �scientific� will give them false ideas about scientific methods and
      criteria� (Central Conference of American Rabbis).

      (Items 2-8 are in M. Matsumara, Voices for Evolution,
      rev. ed. 1995, National Center for Science Education.)

      Fairness requires attention to other religions besides
      those derived from Judeo-Christianity, cannot fairly or adequately be
      done in the science classroom. There is an appropriate place for
      teaching about religious belief systems in public school in classes
      such as History of Religions, Comparative Religions, World Religions,
      and Anthropology of Religious Systems. There is an appropriate place
      for teaching evolutionary principles and evidence in public school
      classes on anthropology and evolution, biology, chemistry, physics,
      and astronomy. Finally, there is patterning in evolution, and it is
      due to random variation in alleles and how they relate to nature�s
      selection through differential survival in the complex and often
      varying conditions of life.

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